Agricultural trade deal: Farmers want the deed done

A MASSIVE trade deal under negotiation is too secret for some, but farmers say they want the deal sealed sooner, not later, to open up more export opportunities.

The Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations will open trade doors for agriculture exports across the globe, with the National Farmers Federation calling for all tariffs to be removed.

But the negotiations, which are completed behind closed doors to allow talks without unwanted publicity, are too secretive, says the Australia Institute.

The deal is currently being negotiated, and NFF president Brent Finlay said it would entail the complete removal of tariffs across all agriculture producers to reach an agreement.

He said such exports earned Australia about $38 billion, and farmers saw the negotiations as a "significant opportunity".

"Export markets are vital for the future of Australian agriculture, and the continued difficulties faced by companies such as SPC Ardmona, means the growers need improved access to new markets," he said.

"We need governments to work harder, and stronger, to finalise such deals as the TPP, ensuring Australian farmers can continue to export high-quality food and fibre to the world," Mr Finlay said.

But TAI executive director Dr Richard Denniss said a recent survey by the institute found 87% of people believe the negotiations should be in public.

He said a clause which could allow foreign companies to sue Australia could hurt the prices paid for imports by the public.

And despite the need for negotiations to be private, due to the diplomatic sensitivity of such talks, Dr Denniss said it was time it was made public.

He said the inclusion of such clauses, which has not been confirmed by government, could allow Australian laws "to be held ransom by foreign interests".

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